Back to All Events

Exhibition Opening | SoMa Nights: The Queer Club Photography of Melissa Hawkins

  • GLBT Historical Society Museum 4127 18th Street San Francisco, CA, 94114 United States (map)


GLBT Historical Society Museum, 4127 18th St., San Francisco, CA 94114


$5.00 | Free for members

*Limited Seating, advance RSVP recommended.

RSVP and purchase tickets here

A new exhibition highlighting the extraordinary vitality of queer nightlife in San Francisco's South of Market (SoMa) district during the darkest years of the AIDS crisis, an era that simultaneously marked the peak of AIDS activism and queer militant organizing in the city.

SoMa Nights: The Queer Club Photography of Melissa Hawkins focuses on the work of Melissa Hawkins, a young photographer for the San Francisco gay weekly The Sentinel and other publications from 1986 to 1994. Her black-and-white images vividly capture the scene with a combination of frankness and intimacy reflecting her dual roles as journalist and nightlife participant.

In an era before digital photography and at a time when some LGBTQ people were still hesitant to make their identities public, Hawkins had both the gear required to shoot first-rate photos and the connections needed to gain the trust of her subjects. The results are powerful images documenting parties at 177 Townsend, 1015 Folsom, The Eagle, The End Up, The Rawhide and The Stud in SoMa, as well as The Box in the Western Addition.

Co-curated by Hawkins and nightlife historian Marke B., the GLBT Historical Society Museum show will feature dozens of these never-before-displayed photos, along with memorabilia including flyers, posters, clothing and decorative artifacts selected to recreate an indelible moment in San Francisco and queer nightlife history. Special events associated with the show will include dance parties and celebrity panel discussions.

The opening reception will feature DJ Junkyard of legendary club Junk, some of San Francisco’s best known nightlife personalities, and brief remarks by the curators. Light refreshments will be served.

Drink Sponsor: Precept WineFort Point Beer Company and The Stud

Photo credit: Melissa Hawkins, Phatima and MichaelAngelo (undated); used with permission.